ROTTERDAM: Pakistan skipper Babar Azam said Monday that pacer Shaheen Shah Afridi’s absence from the Netherlands series gives a chance to youngsters in the team.
“In the absence of Shaheen Shah Afridi, this is an opportunity for youngsters to come forward and showcase their skills,” Babar said while reflecting on the team’s preparation ahead of the series.
“It’s great to be here in the Netherlands for the first time. The weather and the hospitality are very good here and we are being looked after really well.
“I do follow Netherlands cricket and I am impressed with their passion for the game. I am very hopeful that the series starting tomorrow will go a long way to promote the game in this region.
“We will not become complacent here and the players are ready to express themselves on the ground […] we are looking forward to a good contest between bat and ball and I am hopeful the fans will turn up in numbers to witness the series.”
Babar Azam-led Pakistan ODI squad is all set to feature in the first-ever bilateral series against the Netherlands commencing on Tuesday, 16 August in Rotterdam.
Fourth-ranked Pakistan will face the host side again on 18 and 21 August.
The three-match series is part of the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup Super League where the visiting side occupies the fifth spot with 90 points. Babar’s side will be aiming to win all three matches to grab the second position in the points table.
A couple of milestones are on the cards for Pakistan’s premier players. Number one ranked ODI player Azam needs one more century to become the only Pakistan captain to score 10 tons in international cricket. Wicketkeeper-batter Mohammad Rizwan requires 18 more runs to complete 1,000 ODI runs.
Imam-ul-Haq, who trails his skipper Babar on the second spot in the ICC batters’ rankings, will be looking to continue his rich vein of form after amassing seven fifty-plus scores on the trot in ODIs. He was declared player of the series for scores of 65, 72 and 62 in Pakistan’s 3-0 win against the West Indies at home in three-match ODI series in June 2022.
Pakistan will be without the services of world number three ODI bowler Shaheen Shah Afridi, who is not available for the first two games due to a knee injury.
The touring side had their first training session in Schiedam cricket ground, but due to rain, they were compelled to conduct the second training session in indoor facilities in Rotterdam.
Babar Azam (captain), Shadab Khan (vice-captain), Abdullah Shafique, Fakhar Zaman, Haris Rauf, Imam-ul-Haq, Khushdil Shah, Mohammad Haris, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Rizwan, Mohammad Wasim Jnr, Naseem Shah, Salman Ali Agha, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Shahnawaz Dahani, and Zahid Mehmood
16 Aug – 1st ODI; VOC Cricket Ground, Rotterdam
18 Aug – 2nd ODI; VOC Cricket Ground, Rotterdam
21 Aug – 3rd ODI; VOC Cricket Ground, Rotterdam